Rebels 5 Rockets 0
Going into the Red Deer Rebels camp this season, goaltender Riley Lamb was relatively unknown.
All anyone knew was that hewas the MVP in the Manitoba Midget Hockey League, and didn’t receive any other offers except from the Rebels.
All that’s changed.
Lamb quickly grabbed the attention of everyone with the Rebels organization, and most importantly GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
The 18-year-old native of Rivers, Man., drew his first back-to-back Western Hockey League starting assignment Saturday and recorded his first shutout, blanking the Kelowna Rockets 5-0 on 38 saves before 4,515 fans at the Centrium.
“It was good to get that out of the way, hopefully there’s more to come,” said Lamb.
“I wanted to use him for the first time in back-to-back games and he responded well,” said Sutter. “I thought the whole group responded well.”
The win came 24 hours after a disappointing 6-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers, who scored four power play goals. The Rebels were also zero-for-seven on the power play.
On Saturday, the Rebels scored once on the power play and added a second just as a penalty expired. They also killed off five Kelowna power plays.
“We needed that,” said Sutter. “Our special teams were much better. We generated chances on the power play and our penalty kill was outstanding, That was the difference in the game, especially in that first period when we were shorthanded three times. We were good and of course the goalie has to be our best penalty killer and he was tonight.”
Lamb liked what he saw from his teammates as well.
“Our penalty kill was excellent … I’m excited about that,” he said. “In fact our defence did a good job all night,. They tied up the sticks of the Kelowna forwards and didn’t allow any deflections. They also did a good job of allowing me to see the puck.”
His best save was a scintillating first period glove stop off Thomas Souskal, who was allowed to walk into the slot.
“I think that was my best save of the game. I happened to be in the right spot … lucky on that one,” said Lamb modestly.
Lamb wasn’t the only newcomer to catch Sutter’s attention. Dawson Martin, who was picked up in a trade with the Calgary Hitmen, scored his first two goals of the season.
His first gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead 19:01 of the second period when he took the puck out of the corner, into the right circle and snapped a quick shot high to the short side on Kelowna netminder Brodan Salmond. His second came at 13:02 of the third period and put the lid on the scoring.
“I couldn’t be happier for Dawson,” said Sutter. “He needs the confidence. I tell him every day I want him to be more of an offensive threat for us, generate offence and don’t be afraid to create stuff.
“It’s a matter of putting him in situations where he’s comfortable and tonight he made smart plays on both goals. On his first he brought the puck out of the corner and waited patiently and shot in over the goalie. The second he comes out of the corner and makes a nice patient play in front.”
Michael Spacek also scored twice, opening the scoring at 6:20 of the second period and adding his fourth of the season on the power play at 12:08 of the third. One of the more impressive goals on the evening, was a rocket by Colton Bobyk from the right point at 8:33 of the third period which Salmond still hasn’t seen.
The Rebels turned in one of their better performances of the season despite playing their sixth game in nine days.
“We’re a group that will work hard and compete, that can’t be questioned,” said Sutter. “We have to make sure we understand the way we want to play. We just need to improve on minor penalties. Tonight I thought our discipline in the first period wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but we tightened that up.”
The Rebels finished with 29 shots on Salmond.
They return to action Friday when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com, His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca.